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Everyone knows the importance of incorporating exercise into your daily life. But how much exercise do you really need to begin to see results? New studies suggest even minimal exercise can add years to one’s life. For example, if the average adult walks just 6.5 hours a month (which equals 15 minutes a day), he could add three years to his life.

This is important information to know, considering only one third of U.S. adults exercise regularly. This is defined as three to five times a week of moderate or vigorous physical activity, according to the National Health Interview Survey conducted last year.

The incredible benefits of exercise have also been shared in previous postings on this blog site, which include controlling your weight, preventing disease, and slowing down the aging process. In fact, according to U.S. News and World Report, five additional mind-blowing benefits of exercise include:

– Reverses Detrimental Effects of Stress:  Exercise may actually work on a cellular level to reverse the toll of stress on our aging process. Researchers at the University of California at San Francisco found that stressed-out women who exercised vigorously for an average of 45 minutes over a three-day period had cells that showed fewer signs of aging compared to women who were stressed and not active.

– Lifts Depression:  Research suggests that burning off 350 calories three times a week through sustained, sweat-inducing activity can reduce symptoms of depression about as effectively as antidepressants.

– Improves Learning:  Exercise increases the level of brain chemicals called growth factors that help make new brain cells and establish new connections between brain cells to help us learn.

– Builds Self Esteem & Improves Body Image:  Studies suggest that simply seeing fitness improvements, like running a faster mile or lifting more weight than before, can improve your self-esteem and body image.

– Leaves you Feeling Euphoric:  The “runner’s high” really does exist if you’re willing to shift into high-intensity mode. Walk, run, bike, or swim as fast as you can for 30 to 40 seconds and then reduce your speed to a gentle pace for five minutes before sprinting again. Repeat four to five times. You will feel “sparkly” for the rest of the day.

The important thing to remember is you don’t have to run a marathon or the local charity 5K to reap the health benefits of exercise. Simple lifestyle changes such as parking far away from the door, walking a brisk 15 minutes at lunch or taking the stairs everyday will all add up.

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